Books and babies seem like a natural combination at the new Eastside Branch Public Library.
From reading about babies, to reading to babies, the librarians want to make the public library a welcoming space for families.
That’s why April will see the start of a group for new parents, called “Whoa, Baby!”
Eli Warner had been a librarian with the Lexington Public Library for three years. But after her son was born in 2015, she found herself wishing she could spend more time with him.
“Oscar was in daycare and it just got really hard to leave him and have time to hang out with him,” she said. “My husband and I looked at our finances and realized we could do this.”
Warner decided to be a stay-at-home mom and her job opening was posted. Another librarian saw the opening and asked Eli if she would consider running a group for parents of babies at the new library location.
The idea of creating a village for parents appealed to Warner and she agreed. Warner said the struggles of new parenthood were something she could relate to.
“Motherhood rocked my world,” she said. “I thought ‘why didn’t anyone tell me this?’”
The Whoa, Baby group will meet weekly at the Eastside location and will have a loose structure. Warner plans to open meetings by asking parents to share one thing that went well with their baby that week and one thing that did not go well.
Conversation topics can be determined by whatever is on a parent’s mind, and Warner said there is no expectation to keep a baby quiet or still during the meetings.
“We understand these are babies. They’re going to need to eat, they will be loud,” she said. “If you need to get up and walk around or use the exercise balls to bounce a spirited baby on you can.”
Alexa Robertson, librarian at the Eastside Branch, said people should never feel that a baby is an inconvenience at the library.
“The new location will have a big focus on families and kids,” she said. “We want people to know there is a place to get out of the house and look forward to it.”
Warner also wants the group to highlight what the library can offer to new parents. The group will let parents know about helpful books, e-books, websites, and podcasts that the library has available regarding babies and parenthood.
“We read a lot of books (about parenting), and had we needed to purchase them all it would have been a fortune, “ she said. “The library can help fill this unique role in a special time.”
The group is not limited to just moms of newborns. Robertson said moms, dads, relatives acting as parents or foster parents are all welcome to attend. The group is most helpful for first-time parents of babies under 6 months old, but any caretaker needing support won’t be turned away.
“If you are the caretaker of a new baby, come on in and bring that baby with you,” Robertson said.
Whoa, Baby will not require registration to attend. Robertson encourages caretakers to simply come as they are able.
“There is no registration, no pressure. It’s drop-in because we understand what it’s like to get out with a new baby,” she said.
The program is currently scheduled to run for 6 weeks, though if interest is sufficient it might continue. Warner hopes parents will use the group as an opportunity to engage in a specific community and remove some of the isolation that can accompany a new baby.
“Hopefully they’ll gain new parent friends with kids around the same age,” she said “and the knowledge that whatever you’re going through is normal.”
What: Whoa, Baby!
Where: Eastside Branch Public Library, 3000 Blake James Drive
When: Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. April 7- May 12
Info: www.lexpublib.org or 231-5500.